Monday, October 02, 2006

Walk 140 -- Newbiggin-by-the-Sea to Hadston Links

Ages: Colin was 64 years and 147 days. Rosemary was 61 years and 289 days.
Weather: Sunny with a warm breeze and scudding clouds. Half an hour of heavy rain fell mid-afternoon, followed by a rainbow.
Location: Newbiggin-by-the-Sea to Hadston Links.
Distance: 11 miles.
Total distance: 1145 miles.
Terrain: Grassy cliff paths, dunes, roads, but mostly firm flat beach sand.
Tide: Going out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday flat in Longhoughton. We drove to Druridge Bay Country Park, but found that they expected us to pay £2.30 to park our car, and then we had to be certain we were back before 7pm or be locked in! I looked at the map, and we drove a little further north to Hadston Links where we parked for free and could stay as late as we liked! I rang the Blyth taxi firm we used yesterday, but they said we were not in their area any more and they couldn’t help us with the number of a more local firm. So we drove to the village of Hadston and found an advert in a shop window. When I rang he couldn’t do it, but he put me on to yet another firm and they could. So we drove back to Hadston Links as fast as we were able, and were picked up by a very friendly young lady who took us to Newbiggin Point.
At the end we finished the Walk at the car. After a quick cup of tea we drove back to our flat in Longhoughton. (It was a relief not to have to drive miles to pick up bikes!)

We started today’s Walk in the car park where we finished yesterday. A blue plaque informed us that Newbiggin was once a major port, third only in importance to London and Hull for the shipping of corn. No sign of it being a port today — we didn’t even find a harbour, just a modern rock-island put there to stop erosion. We walked round Church Point, but didn’t go in the church, we hadn’t time. We came across Newbiggin’s millennium project, a time capsule buried under a rock. The plaque, etched in polished black granite, told us:
9th September 2000
Beneath this stone lies
a time capsule containing
mementoes of
20th century life, in poems.
pictures and writing,
created by children from
The capsule is
to be opened in
100 years time.
Round the other side of the Point we came to a caravan site with a fence and a path outside it along the low cliff-top. There was a notice warning us in red:—
We nearly laughed at the idiocy of this notice. A few yards further on the path got very narrow for a couple of feet, but it was perfectly walkable so long as you were careful. There was always the fence to hold on to if you felt unsafe, or you could climb over it — it was only a simple wooden affair. Besides that, the ‘cliff’ was only a grassy bank about ten feet high, quite possible to scramble down if you are a normally active person. We have walked without difficulty on far more ‘dangerous’ paths, but in these litigious days the Councils have to stick these silly notices all over the place, desecrating the countryside. It seems that nobody is expected to use their common sense any more.
We ignored it and passed on. There were lots of people on the golf course beyond, even though it was an ordinary Monday in October. They can’t all be retired like us! We clambered down this ‘dangerous cliff’ on to rocks to eat our pies, well away from the far greater danger of being hit by a golf ball. It was very pleasant down there watching the waves plopping on the rocks and the birds on the sea. They looked as if they were attacking fish, but we couldn’t quite see. Then we were attacked by clouds of flies, so we left.
Back on the path we met an old man collecting golf balls. As soon as he saw us he walked over and introduced himself with the words, “My name is Jim Baxter and I’m eighty!” Then he gave us a couple of sweets each! He was very chatty, and told us he collects hundreds of lost golf balls, but he didn’t tell us what he did with them. (Does he sell them back to the golf club, perhaps?) At Beacon Point we came across a World War II ‘pill-box’ which must have been important because it was quite large — it was still possible to get inside it.
Ahead we could see a power station, and we were discussing whether we could get past it on the beach. It was a long way round to pass it on the land side, but the tide still seemed to be too far in to scrabble round it on the beach. Besides, there were two streams to cross, and we didn’t know how deep they were. We met a younger man who didn’t tell us his name and didn’t give us sweets, but he was also very chatty. He was out walking his dog, and he confirmed that it was not possible to get past the power station on the beach, even at low tide. We couldn’t see the path across the golf course to ‘escape’, so he showed us the way (it was very confusing) and directed us the route we should go to get back to the beach further on.
So we had a bit of road-walking to do, which we didn’t enjoy very much. In the village of Lynemouth we passed a Miner’s Welfare Institute which we assumed was for ex-miners since all the collieries are now closed. Then we had to loop back and go underneath an elevated slipway which was obviously redundant because it was broken off at both ends. Over a high fence we could see a plethora of slipways which lead to nowhere — I wonder what will happen to them all.
As we crossed the River Lyne on a road bridge we realised it was really quite deep and we would have been right up it if we had tried to cross it on the beach.
We got ourselves down on to the dunes as soon as we could, and found a pleasant place to sit amongst the flowers and eat our sarnies. Then we continued along the beach, finding the sand to be quite firm. Further on we found ourselves walking on mining infill which was spread along the beach. It had been there some years, so was mostly firm and not smelly. But orange puddles were everywhere, reminding us of the official mining pools we had seen on the last Walk. We think the beach there is still heavily polluted from the centuries of coal mining, and probably will remain so for a good many years to come. Perhaps this was confirmed by the number of dead and dying guillemots we came across on the shore during today’s Walk. A flock of oystercatchers looked very healthy, though, as they wheeled around making a lot of noise.The beach turned rocky, so we had to climb a steep grassy bank (hardly a ‘cliff’) on to the road. I found it difficult to get up because of my back problem — the squidgy thing between the vertebrae in the small of my back is wearing out, so Maria (our chiropractic daughter) tells me — and I inadvertently stung my hand. Colin was very intolerant (“It’s your own fault, you should look where you’re putting your hand!” etc) so I wasn’t very happy with him. I think he was cross because we had to give up the beach and walk along the road for about a mile. We walked into the hamlet of Cresswell, passing a horse in a field, where I fancied an ice cream but the shop was shut.
So, ice-creamless, we returned to the beach — mile upon mile of golden sand! A little coal occasionally, but that didn’t bother us. With dunes to the left of us, rolling surf to the right of us, it was wild and lonely — but magnificently beautiful!There was fantastic light that you only get on the seashore. It made us both feel really good to be alive!There was bad weather ahead, we could see the sky getting more and more black though we were still bathed in warm sunshine. At first we hoped that the storm would pass across at some point ahead and miss us. The light got more eerie, the sky got more black, and suddenly everything changed. It was as if someone had suddenly turned out a light as big raindrops began to fall. We hurriedly donned wet-weather gear and plodded on in driving rain for about half an hour. Now it was an endurance test, no longer a pleasure!
We stopped at a break in the dunes, at Chibburn Mouth, to eat our chocolate. We realised the rain had stopped as suddenly as it had started, and we were treated to a rainbow. So we removed our very wet gear, and continued to enjoy the long sandy beach. The dunes continued, and there were also a lot of concrete blocks left over from the War when all beaches were out-of-bounds to ordinary people. What a terrible time that must have been! There were steps up through the dunes at the Country Park where we had originally intended this Walk to end until we discovered they were going to charge us £2.30 for the privilege of parking our car at that lonely spot. So we passed by and carried on.
The dunes turned into more of a cliff as we neared our free car park. We noticed stripes of different coloured sands, and sand martins’ nests. By our car park was a pile of stones which we used to climb up on to the road.
That ended Walk no.140, we shall pick up Walk no.141 next time on Hadston Links by the pile of stones. We returned to our car parked by itself in a free car park nearby. After a quick cup of tea, we returned to our holiday flat in Longhoughton.

1 comment:

Jon Combe said...

Another post I enjoyed very much! I quite liked Newbiggin. I did manage to find a way all along the coast past Lynemouth Power Station, but it was probably not safe and very unpleasant. There is a track (not marked as a right of way, but well walked) around the golf course from Newbiggin Point to Beacon Point. Rather than follow this to the footpath you can head onto the beach over all the coal waste. There was then a wide black track (covered in coal dust) beside a wall behind the power station. However this turned inland so I continued ahead down a slope and came across a bright orange stream of water, constrainted into a concrete channel. It was disgusting, and I have no idea what was in it to turn it bright orange! It flowed straight out into the sea. However the concrete channel was only a little over 1ft wide, so you could step over it. Beyond there were cliffs of coal waste. I manage to climb over it and came across a wooden sign facing down. I picked it up to see what it said "Danger, Strictly no unauthorised access". Hmm. I headed back to the orange stream and managed to make it down to the polluted beach and walk along it, there was enough room between the coal cliffs and the sea, and the beach here was shingle. At the river Lynemouth the river oddly seemed to flow down between the pebbles (you can see it on Google earth), so I was able to step over the pebbles between the water to get over it, then follow the beach north. I would not recommend it though and it is probably not legal to go this way.